Interview: The Wet One
Bad Boss: Like A Bastard
Unions: Demolition Derby
Corporate: The Bush Doctrine
Politics: American Jihad
Health: Secret Country
Review: Walking On Water
Poetry: The UQ Stonewall
Month In Review
The Locker Room
The Legacy of 11/9
The CFMEU Race Debate #2
Keeping it Clean
Sue the Leaders?
Wrong Way, Go Back
Shame on Murray
Use or Abuse of Long Term Casuals
Speaking in Tongues
Since the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan on Boxing Day 1979 millions of lives have been lost, billions of dollars of damage has been done and the Muslim countries of South Asia have endured endemic war, terrorism and political instability.
Afghanistan lies in ruins, its society ravished by drugs and poverty and the country pulverised by continuous war. Half of the Afghan population - over four million people - have become refugees in neighbouring countries since that pivotal day.
Unholy Wars by American journalist John Cooley traces the repercussions of the Afghan war of 1979-89 and chronicles how the United States used the intelligence services of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to create, train, finance and arm an international network of Islamic warriors to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan.
John Cooley has done the world a mighty service with this book. An American journalist for the Christian Science Monitor Cooley has covered Middle Eastern politics since the Algerian war of independence in 1956. He provides us with a dispassionate, rational history of the 'love affair' between the United States and radical Islamists that fought the Soviet Union between 1979 and 1989.
Unholy Wars makes the political and military links between that Afghan war and the current wave of terror by radical Islamist groups.
Cooley describes in meticulous detail the American sponsored jihad against the Soviet Union that saw thousands of CIA and US Army, Navy and Air Force personnel serve as trainers or instructors in guerilla and terrorist techniques to a proxy army made up of the most conservative and fanatical followers of Islam.'
He also outlines the central role of key CIA allies like construction tycoon Osama bin-Laden and other mega-rich Saudis - who added their private millions to those of the Saudi Government to finance the anti-soviet holy war.
The Long History Of Jihad Against Communism
It became apparent to Western planners during the cold war that the fast-growing religion of Islam was as resolutely anti-communist, if not more so than the Roman Catholic Church.
As far back as the 1950s Islamist groups like Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood received covert American aid when engaged against local communists. By the 1960s Saudi Arabia, America's key Arab ally in the Middle East had become the bastion of support for Islam and political Islamists everywhere.
Cooley argues the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 was the fateful event which was the first link in the chain of dark destiny which has led the United States to its present crisis.
Following the invasion President Carter's National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski advocated a strategy of proxy warfare already tested and applied in places like Angola, Somalia, Ethiopia and Central America to undermine the tottering Soviet Union with its own large Muslim population.
The American love affair with Islamism thus went up another notch. In cooperation with General Zia al-Haq, the military dictator of Pakistan and that country's military and intelligence services, the CIA, with Saudi finance and Pakistani logistical support raised, trained, equipped, paid and sent into battle against the Red Army a mercenary army of Islamist volunteers. This army would be drawn not just from Arab and Muslim states everywhere but also from minority Muslim communities in Western countries including the United States.
Hell Hath No Fury
When in 1989 the Red Army was defeated these Muslim warriors - the Afghan experience central to their lives - were to stay on as fervent defenders of the Islamic cause. They looked for new ways of championing their brand of Islam whether by turning on their masters through attacks on American targets or by attempts to subvert corrupt and oppressive Arab governments. It is mainly the poor and powerless Muslim masses who have borne the brunt of this terrorism.
Algeria has been wracked by the most vicious of civil wars, 50,000 have died in Kashmir in a decade, Chechenya has been reduced to rubble, Somalia and Sudan have imploded and India and Pakistan face off as nuclear adversaries.
Not only in Algeria but in other Mahgreb countries - Egypt and Tunisia especially, radical Islamic terrorist groups flourish. In the Philipines, insurgency by Muslim rebels has escalated.
In Russia, a drug culture with its origins in the addiction and smuggling of Afghanistan war veterans, has fuelled the explosion of organised crime and Mafia violence which has engulfed the country in the 1990s. Veterans from the other side of the 1979-89 war - the Moujahideen - are at the vanguard of forces destabilising Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Dagestan, Kyrgestan and the Caucasus regions.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict spirals further and further out of control. Now the contagion has even reached the United States.
In an eloquent introduction Palestinian intellectual Edward Said praises Cooley for placing 'Islamic militancy in the context created not just by desperately poor, hopelessly mismanaged, corrupt and oppressive societies, but also by great powers like the United States, which has tried to have and eat its cake in all ways, manipulating the militants one day, abandoning them the next, inadvertently keeping them in business then attacked by and finally going to war against them.'
Follow the Money
Which brings us to Iraq. Are we not to learn from the tragic history of the last 23 years since a tiny clique of the Soviet Politburo recklessly set out on their military misadventure?
The United States too is prone to such madness and the attempts of the Bush administration to link Iraq - one of the few secular societies left in the Middle East - to the hypocritical 'war on terror' will be the latest in a line of catastrophic military interventions in the Middle East.
What is increasingly apparent is this current United States administration stands well to the right of those of Ronald Reagan and George Bush Senior. The language of the Republican Party is becoming overtly imperialist. Prominent right-wing think tanks like the Cato Institute, linked to the Republicans, openly talk about Washington's role as a modern Rome.
According to the Washington Post carving up Iraqi oil interests is one of the Bush administration's bargaining chips to win UN Security Council and Western backing for tough international action against Saddam.
'It's pretty straightforward, says former CIA director R. James Woolsey,. 'France and Russia have oil interests in Iraq. They should be told that if they are of assistance in moving Iraq toward decent government, we'll do the best we can to ensure that the new government and American companies work closely with them. If they throw in their lot with Saddam it will be difficult to the point of impossible to persuade the new Iraqi government to work with them.'
These links and ideas penetrate well into the Bush inner circle. They are tied in with the military industries, oil interests and the fundamentalist Christian right.
In a nutshell Australia and the rest of the western world shouldn't have a bar of this dangerous military adventurism and the ideology and self-interest that drives it. We should strongly resist the United Nations being corrupted to support such folly. As the Afghan experience shows everyone involved eventually pays a disastrous price for such opportunism.
If we are looking to 'regime change' to bring peace to the Middle East we should be encouraging it in the United States and Israel not just Iraq and we should be encouraging it through democratic process and within the framework of international law.
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